Film Review: The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (dir by Michael Chaves)


The year is 1981 and Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, of course!) have just screwed up another exorcism.  Only Ed hears as Arne Johnson (Ruairi O’Connor) begs the demon that has possessed 8 year-old David Glatzel (Julian Hilliard) to enter him instead.  Unfortunately, Ed also has a heart attack and passes out before he can tell Lorraine what has happened.

The next month, a hollow-eyed Arne is walking down a road.  He’s just murdered his sleazy landlord, stabbing the man 22 times.  It seems like an open-and-shut case, except for the fact that Arne claims that he was possessed by a demon and that it was the demon who actually committed the crime.  At first Arne’s lawyer is planning to go for an insanity plea but then Ed and Lorraine invite her to come have dinner with them and to see their favorite doll, Annabelle.  The film immediately cuts to Arne’s visibly shaken lawyer announcing to the court that her client pleads “not guilty by reason of demonic possession.”

It’s a funny scene and I was a little bit surprised to see it because, in the past, The Conjuring films have always been distinguished by how seriously they took themselves.  The first two films both unfolded in atmospheres of growing dread, following families that not only had to deal with societal evolution but also with angry spirits.  The first two Conjuring films worked not only as horror films but also as period pieces, as stories about changing times.  Though Ed and Lorraine were always the main investigators, the first two films devoted as much time to exploring the dynamics of the haunted families as it did to portraying the Warrens.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (or, as we’ll call it in the interest of space, The Conjuring 3) takes a different approach, which I imagine has much to do with Michael Chaves directing the film instead of James Wan.  This time, Arne and the possessed family all remain ciphers.  We never learn much about who they are or who they were before they met the Warrens.  We don’t know what Arne was like before he became possessed and, as such, it’s hard to get emotionally invested in him once he does end up with a demon inside of him. 

Instead, the film emphasizes Ed and Lorraine Warren and their work to uncover the occultist who was behind the original possession.  Ed worries about Lorraine as she has psychic visions and wanders around yet another dirty basement.  Lorraine worries that Ed is going to give himself another heart attack as he hobbles through the woods in search of an evil spirit.  Lorraine proves her powers to a skeptical detective.  Ed complains that he doesn’t want people treating his wife’s abilities like a carnival sideshow but he still allows himself a slight smile when she selects the correct murder weapon.  Of course, at one point, Suspicious Minds is heard on the radio and we briefly flashback to Patrick Wilson singing the song in The Conjuring 2.  Once again, the film argues that Ed and Lorraine’s romance, their endless love, makes them uniquely capable of battling the Devil.

The film has its moments, largely because Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are adorable as Ed and Lorraine.  At the same time, though, there’s a definite “greatest hits” feel to the third Conjuring film.  There’s little about the film that feels truly spontaneous or surprising and most of the scenes feel like reworkings of scenes that worked in the previous two films.  As good as Farmiga and Wilson are in their roles (and as much as I appreciate the idea of a Catholic super hero film franchise), Ed and Lorraine work best when they’re relating to and helping other characters.  The Conjuring 3 often solely focuses on them and the end result often feels more like an Insidious sequel than a Conjuring film.

The Conjuring 3 is enjoyable enough.  It gets the job done, while never reaching the emotional heights of the first two films.  It has enough jump scares to be a fun movie to watch on a rainy night but it’s not one that really sticks in your mind after it ends.

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The Warrens return in the trailer for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It


Warner Bros. has us prepped for the summer with another installment of The Conjuring! Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona) takes over the directing duties from James Wan (who serves as a Producer here). This time around, Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) are investigating a case that puts them and an entire town in the spotlight. When a young man is arrested for a murder based on demonic possession, the Warrens are called in to find the truth. We’ll find out for sure when the film releases both in Cinemas and on HBO Max on June 4th.

4 Shots From 4 Films: The Conjuring, Mama, We Are What We Are, World War Z


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 2013 Horror Films

The Conjuring (2013, dir by James Wan)

Mama (2013, dir by Andres Muschietti)

We Are What We Are (2013, dir by Jim Mickle)

World War Z (2013, dir by Marc Foster)

6 Trailers For 6 Films That Still Scare Lisa


I love horror movies but, unfortunately, many of them tend to get a bit less scary upon repeat viewings.  Once you already know where the vampire is going to be hiding or who the werewolf is going to attack next, it becomes a bit more difficult to fall under in the film’s chilling spell.

So, on this Halloween, I’m going to do a very special edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers.  Here are six trailers for six films that still scare me, even after repeat viewings:

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

To be honest, all of the Body Snatcher films scare me, even the really bad ones.  Invasion of the Body Snatchers deals not only with the horror of conformity but also the horror of knowing what’s going on but being helpless to stop it.

The Exorcist (1973)

Maybe it’s because of my Catholic background but, despite the fact that it’s been endlessly imitated, this film scares me every time that I see it.  I think a lot of it has to do with the documentary approach that William Friedkin takes to the material.

Shock (1977)

Mario Bava’s final film gets me every time.  Even though I now know how many of the big scares were actually pulled off, this movie still makes me jump.  In this film, Daria Nicolodi gives the best performance of her legendary career.

The Shining (1980)

Agck!  Those little girls!  That elevator full of blood!  The way Wendy kept interrupting Jack while he was trying to write!

Sinister (2012)

Sinister gave me nightmares the first time that I saw it and it still does.  That ending.  AGCK!

The Conjuring (2013)

This is definitely one of the best haunted house films to come out over the past ten years.  This film is scary because you actually care about the family in the house.  They’re not just disposable victims.  Also holding up well is The Conjuring 2.

Happy Halloween!

“Happy Halloween!”

4 Shots From 4 Haunted Films: The Haunting, Poltergeist, The Conjuring, Crimson Peak


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, the Shattered Lens gets a little bit spooky with….

4 Shots From 4 Haunted Films

The Haunting (1963, dir by Robert Wise)

Poltergeist (1982, dir by Tobe Hooper)

The Conjuring (2013, dir by James Wan)

Crimson Peak (2015, dir by Guillermo Del Toro)

4 Shots From Horror History: The Conjuring, You’re Next, The Babadook, It Follows


This October, I’m going to be doing something a little bit different with my contribution to 4 Shots From 4 Films.  I’m going to be taking a little chronological tour of the history of horror cinema, moving from decade to decade.

Today, we bring things to an end!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this visual history of horror!

4 Shots From 4 Films

The Conjuring (2013, dir by James Wan)

The Conjuring (2013, dir by James Wan)

You're Next (2013, dir by Adam Wingard)

You’re Next (2013, dir by Adam Wingard)

The Babadook (2014, dir by Jennifer Kent)

The Babadook (2014, dir by Jennifer Kent)

It Follows (2015, dir by David Robert Mitchell)

It Follows (2015, dir by David Robert Mitchell)

10 Trailers For 10 Of The Scariest Films Ever Made!


For today’s special Halloween edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers, I present ten trailers for ten of the scariest films that I’ve ever seen!

Are these the scariest films of all time?  Well. I’m not going to say that because horror is subjective and what scares me might not scare you and blah blah blah blah.

So, these might not be the scariest ten films of all time.  But then again, they might…

Night of The Living Dead (1968)

The Exorcist (1973)

Torso (1973)

Suspiria (1977)

Shock (1977)

The Shining (1980)

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1990)

The House of the Devil (2009)

Insidious (2010)

The Conjuring (2013)

 

Lisa’s Picks For The Twelve Best Horror Films of The Past Six Years


CabinInTheWoods

It’s October, which means that it’s horror month here at the Shattered Lens!  Can you believe that we’ve been doing this for six years?  I figured what better way to celebrate the start of October than by listing my picks for the ten best horror and supernatural-themed films to have been released since the founding of Through the Shattered Lens!

(Whoops!  Derrick Ferguson of the Ferguson Theater just reminded me that House of the Devil came out in 2009.  Though I haven’t reviewed House of the Devil on this site — though I did take time to praise this dance scene — it is a film that definitely belongs on this list.  So, I’m adding it and another film as well.  So now, we have a list of the 12 best horror films of the past six years!)

Check them out below!

  1. The Cabin In The Woods (2012)
  2. Warm Bodies (2013)
  3. The Conjuring (2013)
  4. A Field in England (2014)
  5. Take Shelter (2011)
  6. Sinister (2012)
  7. The House of the Devil (2009)
  8. The Babadook (2014)
  9. Devil’s Due  (2014)
  10. Insidious (2011)
  11. Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)
  12. You’re Next (2013)

Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know in the comments!

Warm Bodies

 

Horror Film Review: Annabelle (dir by John R. Leonetti)


Annabelle

Remember Annabelle, the tres creepy doll from The Conjuring?

Well, she’s back and she’s starring in a film of her very own!  Annabelle is the first horror film to be given a wide release this October and, judging from the commercials, New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. are really hoping that you’ll remember just how scary and effective The Conjuring was when it comes time to decide whether you want to see Annabelle or Gone Girl this weekend.

Of course, Annabelle actually have very little do with The Conjuring.  Though Father Perez, the token concerned priest played by Tony Amendola, mentions Ed and Lorraine Warren, neither one of them actually appears in the film.  Neither do any of the other characters or ghosts from The Conjuring.  The only link between the two films is that doll.

Taking place in 1969, Annabelle is an origin story of sorts.  Doctor John Gordon (Ward Horton) buys a doll for his pregnant wife, Mia (Annabelle Wallis).  The doll looks evil from the minute that Mia unwraps it but, according to the film, it was actually harmless until a psychotic hippie girl (Tree O’Toole) bled on it.  That blood seeped into the doll’s eye and the next thing you know…

Annabelle2

No,  I’m not going to spoil it for you.  In fact, it’s really not necessary for me to spoil it for you because I imagine you can probably guess everything that’s going to happen.  If you’ve ever seen a haunted house film, you know exactly what’s going to happen when John goes to work and Mia gets left in the house alone.  If you’ve ever seen a demonic possession film, you can guess what’s going to happen when Mia happens to stumble across the occult book store next door.  And, if you’ve ever seen any film, you can guess that the book store is managed by a sassy mystic played by Alfre Woodard.

That’s right!  There’s nothing surprising about Annabelle!

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Horror films are unique in that they often times actually benefit from being so predictable.  You watch in dread because you know that something terrible is going to happen even though the characters in the film do not.  You know enough to yell, “Don’t open that door!” but the characters in the film don’t.  That’s exactly what makes a film like Annabelle scary.

The Conjuring, I thought, was not only a great horror film but it was also one of the best films of 2013.  That’s because, along with being a scary movie, The Conjuring also dealt quite intelligently with very real issues of faith and family.  The Conjuring was fun to watch because it was scary but it stayed with you because it was full of subtext.  Annabelle, on the other hand, is a film without subtext.  Everything important about Annabelle can be found right on the surface.

Annabelle is a film that exists solely to scare you and how much you enjoy it will probably depend on how much you enjoy  horror films to begin with.  The shock scenes are handled well, with an emphasis on sudden noise on the soundtrack and intimidating shadows appearing in the background.  Everything that distinguished The Conjuring — the attention to detail, the lively performances, and the imaginative plotting — has been pushed to the side to make room for the next scare.

As a result, Annabelle is one of those films that makes you jump while you’re watching it but doesn’t stick around in your head afterwards.  If you’re a fan of the horror genre and like a good scare, you’ll probably find something to enjoy in Annabelle.  (It’s no Devil’s Due but it’s still better than the latest Paranormal Activity film.)  If you’re not a horror fan — well, then you probably weren’t planning on seeing Annabelle in the first place.

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Lisa Marie Picks The Best 26 Films of 2013


UpstreamColor_KrisJeffEscalator_3000x1277

2o13 was an unusually good year in film.  While there was never any doubt what my number one film would be, it took me considerably longer to narrow down my other favorites to just 25 movies.

Also complicating matters is that a film that I’m very much looking forward to, Spike Jonze’s Her, is not going to be opening here until next weekend.  Because I haven’t seen it, I could not consider it for this list.  If, after I do see it, I feel that it belongs in the top 26, I will add it.

(Update: I have since seen Her and I have modified my original list. — LMB, 1/1o/14)

You may be asking, “Why 26 films?”  Lisa doesn’t do odd numbers, that’s why.

Without further ado, here’s the list!

  1. Upstream Color
  2. American Hustle
  3. Frances Ha
  4. Her
  5. Before Midnight
  6. Blue Is The Warmest Color
  7. Spring Breakers
  8. 12 Years A Slave
  9. Fruitvale Station
  10. Inside Llewyn Davis
  11. The Wolf of Wall Street
  12. Warm Bodies
  13. The Counselor 
  14. Gravity
  15. Blue Jasmine
  16. The Spectacular Now
  17. Much Ado About Nothing
  18. Dallas Buyers Club
  19. The Conjuring
  20. Drinking Buddies
  21. Iron Man 3
  22. Nebraska
  23. The Place Beyond The Pines
  24. At Any Price
  25. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  26. All Is Lost
  27. The Iceman
  28. Frozen

Upstream Color

(Now that you’ve seen my favorites of 2013, check out my picks for 2010, 2011, and 2012!)

Other Entries In TSL’s Look Back At 2013:

  1. Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Novels of 2013
  2. Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Non-Fiction Books of 2013
  3. Semtex Skittle’s 2013: The Year in Video Games
  4. 20 Good Things Lisa Marie Saw On Television in 2013
  5. 10 0f Lisa Marie’s Favorite Songs of 2013
  6. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2013
  7. Necromoonyeti’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013
  8. Things That Dork Geekus Dug In 2013
  9. Lisa Marie’s Best of 2o13 SyFy